It’s finals week.
This morning I walked into my classroom, where a few of my classmates had gathered together to study.
“Have you done your interview yet?” I was asked. (In this program we do finals in the form of 2 30-minute, one-on-one interviews with our professor, covering the information we learned over the semester and tracing themes throughout history.) I replied that I had not yet. Mine would be in half an hour.
“Can I pray for you?” one of my classmates asked me.
“Sure!” I said, not having expected the pleasure of getting to be prayed for. Aww. (The others had probably prayed for one another earlier, and I had missed it.)
She started praying, and in a second the others were all around me praying too—for clarity and the ability to recall everything I’d studied… You guys. My class is so sweet. I felt so blessed.
Then I tried to hurriedly intake as much information as I possibly could until 8:30.
/ / /
I saw one of my good friends. She gave me a hug. “How do you feel?”
“I don’t know,” I responded with a nervous laugh. I did not feel ready for this.
“I’ll be praying for you!” she said.
I walked into one of the classrooms and sat down with my professor. He opened with prayer, then we started.
“Over the year, we’ve studied the development in history of the relationship between faith and reason. Can you tell me about any themes we’ve studied this semester regarding faith and reason?”
I racked my brain. I knew I had made a long list of such themes in preparation for this interview, but I could not for the life of me think of the first theme on that list. An uncomfortable silence ensued. I looked down at the plastic table-top—white, with little black flecks in it, like vanilla ice cream—and tried to think.
Pascal was the first person I could think of, though I knew he was not the first contributor to the “faith vs. reason” developments since the 1500s. But I started with him.
Pascal had a positive attitude toward reason, but knew the fallibility of man’s reason…oh wait. Before that was Descartes—”I think, therefore I am”… AHA—he introduced the “subjective turn”: reasoning starting with MAN as opposed to starting with God. (Why, Pascal.) He also had his cosmological argument (cause & effect) for the existence of God, which was that an imperfect being cannot think of a truly perfect Being. In other words, he said that an imperfect cause cannot create a perfect effect—therefore God must be something existing outside of a person’s imagination; being most perfect, He must exist. (#Anselm) THEN there was Pascal. “Man is a thinking reed”—Pascal had a high view of human reason, but he knew that humans are fallible, therefore reason is fallible. “The heart has reasons of which reason knows nothing.” He held that God can only be truly known by the heart, not simply by reason ALONE… (paraphrased summary of thought process)
I went on, until I had said as much as I could recall. “I think that’s all I’ve got,” I at last said.
We moved on to other topics.
…”Well, it’s 9:00, so we have to stop.” he said after a while. “Thank you!”
I thanked him and left. One interview down. I did not know whether I’d done well or not.
“Madeline! How did it go?” a few classmates asked excitedly.
“I don’t know,” I replied. “I think it went alright…”
I went back to the classroom and checked my email. What, a grade back already? That was quick. It’s probably just a C, I told myself. I was not expecting anything good. I always had gotten Cs on my interviews.
Not this time— this time it was higher than a C. Wow, how unexpected! I was beaming. Praise the LORD! He had heard those prayers. Somehow, though I felt like there were many questions that I answered with “I don’t know”, and many awkward silences, and many times where I felt like I could not properly communicate what I was thinking, the LORD had given me the grace of a good grade.
One down. One more to go.